Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program

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Students Share Their Perspective About the Trial Advocacy Program


 

Capitol City Challenge - Hosted February 27th to March 2, 2014

The Trial Advocacy Program and Mock Trial Honor Society hosted the Sixth Annual Capitol City Challenge Mock Trial Competition (CCC) on February 27 - March 2, 2014. Temple University Beasley School of Law won the competition by defeating Fordham University School of Law in the final round. Twenty law schools from across the nation participated in the CCC. Each team consisted of four law students and a coach. Participating schools are listed below. The competition included six full-trial rounds of competition held at WCL and DC Superior Court. Over 120 experienced federal and state judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and private practice attorneys served as evaluators.

Participating law schools: Georgetown University Law Center, Brooklyn Law School, University of Houston Law Center, Villanova University School of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law, New York University School of Law, Fordham University Law School, University of South Dakota School of Law, Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, William and Mary School of Law, Widener Law School, Hofstra University School of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law, John Marshall Law School, Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law, George Washington University School of Law, Howard University School of Law, and Cornell University Law School.

 

Trial Team Advances to the 2014 National Trial Competition

The Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program Co-hosted the Regional Tournament

The Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program co-hosted the 2014 National Trial Competition Regional Tournament with Trial Advocacy Programs from the University of Maryland and Catholic University. This mock trial tournament, first held in 1975, is widely recognized as one of the two top U.S. law school mock trial competitions.

The tournament, held Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, consisted of 25 teams from 13 law schools in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, including Georgetown, George Washington, University of Maryland, University of Virginia, Washington and Lee, and William & Mary. Two teams from each of 14 regions will compete at the National Trial Competition March 26-30 in Austin, Texas.

For the first time, both of American University Washington College of Law's trial teams advanced to the final rounds. The AUWCL team of Kyle O’Grady (3L) and Corey Peterson (3L) won their final round and will represent AUWCL in the National Competition. (Pictured: Peterson and O'Grady with The Honorable Benson Everett Legg, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.) The AUWCL team of Rachael Curtis (3L) and Ryan Fanning (3L) also were finalists.

Each of the 25 participating teams had four full trial rounds and four teams competed in two simultaneous final rounds. Over 140 AUWCL students participated as witnesses in these mock trials and 150 practitioners and judges served as trial judges and evaluators.

New Digital Evidence Workshop Among Cutting-Edge Course Offerings for the First Annual Litigation Skills Summer Institute

Bernadette Armand has been practicing law for nearly five years, but she recently returned to the classroom to improve her advocacy skills in the courtroom.

Armand, (pictured left) participated in the Litigation Skills Summer Institute, an intensive two-week training that helped both practitioners and qualified law students master litigation skills.

“American University Washington College of Law has a great trial advocacy program for both students and practicing attorneys, and it was important for me to take advantage of that resource,” said Armand.

Composed of short lectures and demonstrations, this summer program featured a host of faculty experts who lead courses on fact witness depositions, expert witness depositions, digital presentation of evidence, and civil trial advocacy. During the courses, students honed pre-trial and trial skills, such as deposing fact and expert witnesses, delivering opening statements and closing arguments, preparing and conducting cross-examinations, making timely objections, and laying the proper foundation to admit evidence. Each course was designed to give participants simulated, real-world experiences to sharpen their courtroom skills.

In keeping with the advanced nature of the Trial Advocacy Program, a nationally recognized expert in the field of digital presentations taught a full day seminar on how to present evidence with the newest technology available. Because participants could attend the whole two-week institute or choose individual courses that are right for them, Armand took advantage of that workshop.

The workshop was one of the new components of the program, and featured instruction and demonstrations of effective ways to incorporate technology when presenting evidence. Faculty experts demonstrated how best to use video clips and data compilations in digital format, as well as instructed participants on how to use technology, to make strong, effective arguments that resonate with jurors and judges.

“I think being able to show and highlight the important portions of evidence that we’re using will be really valuable,” said Kristin Guilano, a workshop participant and rising 3L at AUWCL. “I learn by doing, so this has been great.”

The Litigation Skills Summer Institute concluded with a full mock trial before a sitting judge and citizen jurors.

Mock Trial Takes First Place at the Estrella Trial Advocacy Competition

WCL TeamThe WCL team of Ryan Fanning (2L), Sarah Thomas (3L), Rachael Curtis (2L), and Ellis Palividas (3L) (left to right in the photograph) took first place at the Estrella Trial Advocacy Competition this past weekend.  The Competition was co-hosted by the George Washington University Law School and the Estrella law firm in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The problem was a civil premises liability case where the plaintiff sued the defendant for injuries she sustained as a result of an armed robbery in the defendant's parking lot. 

The students defeated teams from University of California at Los Angeles, University of Missouri at Kansas City, Fordham University, and St. John's University on their way to the top. Teams from local schools such as Georgetown Law Center, George Mason University and George Washington University School of Law also participated in the competition.  I had the pleasure of co-coaching this talented and hard-working group of students with Elizabeth Lippy, Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program. 

The American University, Washington College of Law's Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program provides experiential learning opportunities for students to gain proficiency in trial litigation skills. Skills are honed in a "controlled simulation clinic" environment using a hands-on teaching style and cutting-edge technology. The Program focuses on learning-by-doing, with practical instruction, demonstrations, feedback, and critique used to direct student learning. For more information about the program please view our brochure.

The Program offers approximately 35 sections of a variety of courses to more than 400 students each year. Each course includes specialized skills training, development of case theory and themes, analysis of strategies, and discussions of professional ethics.

A special feature of the Trial Advocacy Program is a presentation by a professional actor, Paul Morella, on the use of theatre skills and techniques to communicate and persuade more effectively.

In addition to the courses offered by the Trial Advocacy Program, students are encouraged to become involved in organizations such as the Mock Trial Honor Society. The Mock Trial Honor Society is a student led organization that oversees and assists with the coordination and training of WCL's competitive trial teams. Those student teams then compete in both civil and criminal competitions throughout the United States.

Benefactor

The Program is entering a new chapter thanks to the generosity of Stephen S. Weinstein, WCL class of 1965, a distinguished litigator and past participant in the Program. In celebration of his recent gift to WCL, the Trial Advocacy Program has been named the Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program. His contribution will enable the Program to create additional scholarship in trial advocacy; enhance the WCL courtroom facilities; and provide opportunities, through conferences and lectures, to explore current issues relating to the theory and practice of trial advocacy.


Contact Information

David Aaronson
Director

American University
Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Suite 410
Washington, DC 20016
Tel: 202-274-4201

Elizabeth Boals
Associate Director

American University
Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW Suite 310A
Washington, DC 20016
Tel: 202-274-4073

Elizabeth Lippy
Assistant Director

American University
Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts, Ave, NW Suite 310
Washington, DC 20016
Tel: 202-274-4145

Kimberley Green
Program Coordinator

American University
Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Suite 310B
Washington, DC 20016
Tel: 202-274-4258

Tahniat Saulat
LL.M & Summer Institute Coordinator

American University
Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Suite 310B
Washington, DC 20016
Tel: 202-274-4474